[JURIST] Croatian lawmakers voted Friday to hold a referendum on December 1 on a same-sex marriage ban in the country. The referendum will decide [AP report] whether the nation's constitution should define marriage as a "union between a woman and a man." The referendum was called after approximately 700,000 peoplemore than required by law for holding a referendumsigned a petition launched by a conservative group seeking a vote. The question, which would create a de facto ban on same-sex marriage, is worded: "Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?" Lawmakers voted [AFP report] to move the referendum forward by a vote of 104 to 13. The rest of the 151-seat assembly were absent or abstained. In July Croatia joined the EU, which leaves regulation of same-sex rights to every member state.
In September, representatives from Croatia attended [JURIST report] the first UN ministerial meeting on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Representatives from the US, France, Argentina, Brazil, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan, New Zealand and the EU, along with executive directors of Human Rights Watch and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission [advocacy websites] were also present. LGBT individuals have gained increased rights globally in the last decade, but many still face discrimination and criminal punishment throughout the world. In June Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian] signed into law [JURIST report] a bill banning the promotion of "homosexual propaganda" among minors. The law also imposes fines [AFP report] of up to 5,000 rubles (USD $166) and creates the power to suspend legal entities for 90 days for citizens who disseminate information suggesting that homosexuality is "socially equivalent" to heterosexuality.